Why you should consider planting a living roof on your home

PUBLISHED: 14:12 10 March 2015 | UPDATED: 12:42 11 March 2015

Highgate garden room

Highgate garden room


Protecting London from the impacts of climate change including flooding, over-heating and drought, living roofs and walls are not just a pretty face for buildings in the capital.

Highgate garden roomHighgate garden room

Living roofs, also known as green or eco roofs, absorb rainfall, helping to prevent flooding; insulate buildings, which reduces energy costs; improve air quality; and help counter the Urban Heat island effect by absorbing less heat during the day and so emitting less overnight. They can even increase biodiversity in the city by providing habitat for rare insect populations.

Defined as any roof structure that has a planting scheme established on it, living roofs can be found at any level and can even be used to cover basement extensions.

Highgate garden roomHighgate garden room

The environmental benefits are only part of the story though; living roofs also add usable green space in urban developments that are being built more and more densely.

Not only this, but they are also being used with increasing frequency in private homes, especially in cases where a quest for additional square footage has led to extensions eating up valuable garden space.

Highgate garden roomHighgate garden room

In these instances, not only may a living roof help smooth the planning process by providing an attractive screening device to new building (although this isn’t always the case) but it could also replace the recreational outside space lost by building as in Camden-based design firm Folio Design’s Highgate project discussed overleaf.

Although many of the most lavish examples have been created by architects as part of major home renovation works, it is also possible to build and plant a living roof yourself. The Green Roof Centre has a free online guide to the process on their website thegreenroofcentre.co.uk.

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